Geoscience

Volcanic lightning made in the lab

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
504,
Page:
335
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/504335a
Published online

By replicating the lightning seen at the throats of erupting volcanoes, scientists have found that a greater abundance of fine particles spewing out of an eruption creates more lightning.

CORRADO CIMARELLI/MIGUEL ALATORRE IBARGÜENGOITIA

Corrado Cimarelli of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, and his colleagues simulated a volcanic eruption by placing ash in a shock tube — an instrument that generates blasts. Drastically decompressing the ash caused it to explode upwards into a tank.

High-speed cameras and other instruments captured a rare glimpse of the lightning that formed (pictured).

Clustering of charged particles in the ash jet triggers electrical discharges, the authors propose.

Geology http://doi.org/qfz (2013)

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